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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3167


Senator MACKLIN(6.57) —Senator Sir John Carrick would know that in the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform I argued for the poster to be put into the compartment, but I graciously gave up on that because I recognised the physical impossibilities of that occurring, particularly in relation to New South Wales, the honourable senator's home State. However, I take this display-I was quite pleased to see this provision in the Act when I saw it for the first time-to be basically a way of providing public information. I think probably we have the argument around the wrong way.

Really, the first argument here is whether or not the list system will be on the ballot paper. If the list system is on the ballot paper the registered how to vote cards or the registered distributions of preferences that are crucial for the list system at the top to work, must be somewhere. Presumably the Commonwealth Electoral Act could simply say that these will be held by the Australian Electoral Commissioner, but I think the Act goes further, and quite rightly, and says that all of those registered distributions of preferences must actually be also in every polling booth for the information of every elector. Essentially the electors will be interested in those only if they wish to check precisely what a tick next to the Australian Democrats or the Liberal Party would mean in the list system. They do not actually have to copy it down. All a citizen has to do is put one tick on his ballot paper if he is making use of the poster on the wall.

The next section along, of course, could be-this is the point that Senator Sir John Carrick raised-that they could also use that poster if they wished to do so for filling in all of the names at the bottom of the ballot paper in the normal distribution, shall we say the manual distribution, of preferences. I also know that the political parties still, unfortunately-it is something I have fought, as Senator Sir John Carrick would remember-will be handing out how to vote cards outside. They will be how to vote cards for the manual distribution of preferences at the bottom of the ballot paper. So I think that really, rather than castigate the Government on this, one should simply say that this ought to have been done if a list system is put in place. Surely every citizen has the right to view precisely what the parties have done in registering their how to vote cards.

I discussed this matter with the Government before the Bill went through the House of Representatives and was instrumental in getting the definition of polling booth put in the legislation. There was not one in it. I could foresee a very interesting debate in the absence of such a definition. It makes it a little clearer. I was in fact keen that there be more than one, but as much as I could get from the Minister, who was eminently co-operative on this one, was an agreement to put in the word 'prominently'. That was an amendment made in the House of Representatives. We have this displayed prominently, as indeed it should be, somewhere in the polling booth, not in the polling place, and I do not see really that there is much more physically that can be done in terms of assisting and informing the voter if the list system is accepted by this place. So really this is predicated on the acceptance of the list system. If we accept the list system I believe that poster ought to be in the polling booth as a matter of course for the information of citizens.